There are certain items you can’t leave the house without, but while the triumvirate of keys, phone and wallet do for most, that just won’t do for others. From flashlights to penknives, people top up the bare necessities depending on their jobs, hobbies or environment. Whatever it is you take with you, that is your ‘Everyday Carry’.
On a basic level, Everyday Carry (EDC) refers to the small items or gadgets carried or worn by a person on a daily basis to manage commons tasks, or for use in unexpected situations. But a lifestyle has developed from this concept. EDC is a philosophy of preparedness, a discipline centred around utilitarian items of simple, functional design. But how does it work? And what do people use their EDCs for?
Founded in 2009, Everyday Carry is a site dedicated to this philosophy. Its main feature is ‘pocket dumps’, photos of the contents of individuals’ bags. “You can peruse an endless stream of photographs in which random strangers list what they keep in their pockets and on their person,” says the site’s founder Bernard Capulong.  Items in photos are all tagged, and if users click them they’re directed to third-party websites where the products can be purchased. The site also features buying guides, reviews and ‘Carry Smarter’ articles on subjects like tough pens and the benefits of carrying a flashlight.
For the uninitiated, the point of EDC is questionable; is it not just people’s everyday essentials? “The slight distinction with the approach to EDC I try to take goes a bit beyond this,” says Capulong. “The theme of the blog and the ideas that it tries to promote include preparedness, self-reliance, and efficiency. To be prepared is to have whatever tools you might need every day at your disposal in order to be self-reliant and to be efficient.” 
To be prepared is to have whatever tools you might need every day at your disposal in order to be self-reliant and efficientBernard Capulong, co-founder of Everyday Carry
Essentially, your EDC prepares you for the worst and empowers you to do your best.  It’s proving to be a popular concept; the site receives four million pageviews per month, while it’s Twitter account has over 100,000 followers.  But it’s quality as well as quantity that confirms EDC’s success. In 2011, the site was named as one of Time’s 25 best blogs, with Harry McCracken, editor at large, saying that EDC “may not sound scintillating in principle, but in practice it's addictive.” 
But who are the people living their lives by EDC, and what do they use their carry for? It’s mostly men, due to “an aspect of masculinity and machismo” that Capulong describes, and in an increasingly urban world, they are mostly white-collar workers.  And their use of EDC varies, from the practical to the powerful. For example, 32 year-old Ben Brooks works for a software company and uses his pocketknife for felling Amazon orders. Los Angeles-based blogger Wes Siler, 34, however, helped a man in a car crash with his EDC. “I used the pocket knife to smash the window, cut the seatbelt and pull him out.” 
From field notes to flashlights, EDC promotes preparedness, self-reliance and efficiency
Mike Petrucci, Creative Commons (2014) ©
In recent years, office-bound urban men have adopted the trappings of their rural, outdoorsy brothers – think hipster beard, flannel shirts and work boots. And while the psychology behind the movement might be hard to define, Capulong believes that it conveys ruggedness and lone-wolf competence in an increasingly tech-centric and interconnected world. 
There is also Gen Y’s appreciation of ethics and integrity to consider. Gen Yers are more likely to look for products that align with social causes.  While not explicitly aligned to doing good, workwear brands are associated with integrity; they’re goods originally made for hard-working, no-frills, everyday people. Combine this with the rise of normcore – an embracing of ‘sameness’ in response to the everyone-is-different approach to style – and it’s easy to see why urbanites are adopting the fashions of rural workers.
But it goes beyond garments. A wave of newer brands are making their mark in the outdoor gear industry, too. Dubbed ‘the cool kids’ by industry insiders, Huckberry and Poler sell tough-but-trendy gear, from sleeping bags to compasses, and have given the industry a modern, inclusive makeover.  The models in Huckberry’s and Poler’s marketing campaigns look like active friends you want to plan hiking excursions with, not intimidating outdoorsmen. 
Your Everyday Carry is whatever you take with you
Herschel Supply Co. (2014) ©
"We operate on the belief that being 'outside' is just as important as being 'outdoors' – we don't need to be in the backcountry to feel the benefits of fresh air," says Ali Ruhfel, Huckberry’s director of sales and brand partnerships. "This fundamental outlook is one everyone can appreciate, weekdays or weekends, car camping or mountain climbing." 
Attitudes like these have opened outdoor gear to a much more urban market. Ice box brand YETI, for example, saw sales of its premium coolers rise from $30 million in 2011 to $100 million in 2013. On top of indestructible, ‘Grizzly Proof’ coolers, YETI sells branded gear like bottle openers and belts. 
The concept of connoisseurship is also key to understanding EDC’s appeal. In a connected world, people are able to find others who share their passions. And with everyone only a search away from expertise, anyone can become a connoisseur of anything, from pencils at Pencil Revolution to teas at Steepster. EDC is no different; its forums are filled with debates about the most effective pocketknife, the most efficient flashlight and the most durable bags.
EDC exists at an intersection between connoisseurship and the newfound ‘coolness’ of outdoor gear. But unlike Wes Siler, most people don’t get the chance to brandish their EDC in real emergencies. With items zipped up in eternally durable bags, where else do people get the chance to show off their gear?
Brands like Huckberry cater to a new breed of wilderness-loving urbanites
Huckberry (2015) ©
Insights and opportunities
For outdoor brands, the popularity of EDC is evidence that their industry is changing. Having traditionally spoken to the core – the people at the top of the mountain – brands need to figure out how to cater for a new audience. “There’s rapidly been a whole new wave of people who want to experience the outdoors in a different way,” says Steve Casimiro, founder of Adventure Journal. “Some are millennials, some are not, but they just want to be outside and they don’t look like the type of folks the outdoor industry has targeted in the past." 
Everyday Carry provides brands with a way to reach this audience. Pocket dump items are tagged with links to retailers who sell the goods, meaning “newcomers and veterans alike can look through a person’s everyday carry and see something they’d like, and easily purchase,” according to Capulong.  Huckberry, for example, posts links to dumps that feature its products on social media. Meanwhile, brands like Field Notes – a maker of durable notepads – have collaborated with the site to offer giveaways, and its presence in numerous users’ EDCs is no coincidence.
It’s interesting because, to some degree, everyone already has an everyday carry, but fewer people realise there’s a term and a culture centered around thatDaniel Saltman, co-founder of Everyday Carry
But EDC’s impact isn’t just restricted to the outdoors; it also extends to retail brands. “Every item has a story and a reason for being an essential part of an everyday carry,” says Capulong. “Men’s fashion is one area I think the EDC movement has only recently reached within the past few years, with essentials being a great example of that.”  In the age of ‘athleisure’, there is a need for fashionable pieces that perform. And with outdoor brands stuck on “packing on the technical gear,” Casimiro says that retail brands can focus on this missing fashion element. 
“The EDC movement is certainly evolving, and reaching more people than ever before,” says co-founder Daniel Saltman. “Everyone already has an everyday carry, but fewer people realise there’s a term and a culture centered around that.”  If brands can convince consumers that they belong to this culture, then they can expect to become part of people’s everyday.
1. ‘Bernard Capulong – founder of the Everyday Carry blog talks about the philosophy behind EDC’, PostDesk (October 2011)
2. ‘What is EDC? The beginner's guide to Everyday carry’, Everyday Carry (April 2015)
3. ‘Advertise on Everyday Carry’, Everyday Carry
4. ‘The best blogs of 2011’, Time (June 2011)
5. ‘It’s a jungle out there? Carry a pocketknife’, The New York Times (June 2015)
6. ‘Data points: Responsible youth’, Adweek (October 2012)
7. ‘What are the coolest new lifestyle products?’, Outside (February 2015)
8. ‘Selling the great outdoors: The billion-dollar brand battle for the casual camper’, Racked (May 2015)
9. ‘How Yeti made a cooler an aspirational brand’, Advertising Age (October 2014)
10. ‘The world of Everyday Carry’, Hypebeast (April 2014)